By Daniel Hubbard | August 11, 2013
I’m surprised every time the blogiversary season rolls around and it is time to dig out the party hat. Blogiversary IV has really snuck up on me as I try to finish writing a couple books, start another and prepare to speak at FGS, my first national conference. Every year I joke about how it is my tradition to start with a short “real” post and then throw in a summary “party.” One of these years, I’ll have to admit that it is a real tradition. Now there is a question for genealogists. How many times in a row does it take to make a tradition?
I’ve been working on a lot of immigrant families lately and something has struck me. At first I thought it was odd but then I realized that if it was true at all, there were many reasons. I think it first occurred to me when I was asked to find the places of origin of a few Irish immigrants before a trip to Ireland. All the supposed immigrants were born in America. One of the parents was an immigrant and all the rest of the parents of the supposed immigrants were themselves born in America to immigrants. There is nothing so strange about family stories being in the right direction but not completely accurate but when I thought about it there was something else going on. Men and women who were not immigrants were marrying people whose ancestors had left the same area at about the same time even though they themselves probably had no idea that was the case. I realized that I’d seen this many times before. Once my aunts learned it and told him, my father was fond of saying that his ancestry was pure British Isles. He might also have pointed out that all of them had crossed the Atlantic by 1820 with the exception of a single Potato Famine immigrant. Clearly, my father’s parents weren’t aware of that, nor were their parents or even their parents. My father’s father’s father had almost nothing but ancestors who arrived between 1630 and 1640 and he married a woman whose family had found their way to the Midwest at a different time, by a different route and initially settled in a different state but whose ancestors arrived from England between 1630 and 1640. Neither of them would have had the slightest idea that this was true.
I think I’ve seen this kind of thing too often to be random chance. Assuming it isn’t chance or just me preferentially remembering such things, then there ought to be reasons. I think the items on this list just might be part of those reasons.
- People often marry within what they perceive to be their ethnic group.
- People often stick within their religion, which is often coupled with ethnic group, so the two reenforce each other.
- Ethnic groups often came in waves because of events in their homelands.
- People in those waves often settled in specific areas, reenforcing the tendency to stick together. There might be few other people around to marry and those people may very well have something against the new ethnic group and visa versa.
- Waves of the same ethnicity that arrived at different times often settle in different areas (for example, Germans in Pennsylvania in one era then in Wisconsin generations later) so that people of one ethnicity but of separate immigration waves are kept apart.
- People may no longer be conscious of their ancestral past but still carry a cultural fingerprint that helps determine choice of spouse. That cultural fingerprint is partially determined by factors 1-5 and partially determined by their parents, whose choice of spouse was also affected by the same factors.
- People may no longer be living in an area where their immigration wave dominated directly but still be part of an internal migration that lands people from the same place together in a different place.
What does one need for a party?
A location is good to have and directions to a genealogical party ought to be specified only through lots of obscure land records. Though, perhaps Logs Vegas would be an exciting place to get together! Some people, though, prefer parties held at home.
It is also wise to know the names of the people that you are inviting.
Some people’s idea of a good party is that it should feel like the apocalypse during the party and look like a war zone afterward. Far more people find some dancing that is somewhat short of apocalypse-inducing to make for a good party. A kid’s party might even have some magic.
At many a genealogical party there is some ancestor who sits half-forgotten by themselves, but genealogists are a friendly lot and will try to get them into the swing of things. Another sort of guest is the one that doesn’t show up.
Eventually the bills for the party will come due and someone will need to do some accounting.Twitter It!